Most of a series of new polls, including an NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey released on Thursday, show President Obama ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney by a slight margin. The NBC poll shows Obama at 49 percent, Romney at 43.
The polls all essentially tell the same story: women, blacks, and Latinos still overwhelmingly favor the president, even as the three groups have seen major job losses during his tenure. Obama leads by 12 points among female voters in the new poll, about the same margin as he won that demographic with in 2008. And he is collecting about 90 percent of the black vote and two thirds of the Latino vote, just as in 2008.
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Those numbers are why Romney is talking about creating some kind of Republican “Dream Act,” to woo Latino voters, and touting his wife Ann’s role in the campaign to appeal to women. (His campaign has effectively conceded black voters already) The importance of the Latino vote is also, in part, why Obama is promising to make immigration reform a centerpiece of his second term if he wins reelection.
To be sure, Romney has months to focus on winning voters in the political middle after a long-primary race. And Obama is weaker among some groups, such as white men, than in 2008.
But the data suggests Obama starts off the general election with a slim lead, and Romney will have to make moves to change that dynamic.
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr